Honey Garlic Shrimp
Honey garlic shrimp combines the pungent flavor of browned garlic with the sweet sticky texture and taste of caramelized honey to coat a bunch of plump savory shrimp in a glorious glaze.
Ten minutes and a handful of ingredients is all you need to put this together, which makes this a great weeknight meal, but it’s not all about convenience. Take one bite, and I think you’ll agree that this tastes like a lot more work went into it. The best part is that there’s a lot of room for variation by changing up the protein and seasonings, so have fun with it and make it your own!
Why this recipe works
- The shrimp is pan-fried to brown it (but not cook it through all the way). The shrimp finishes cooking in the sauce. The browned shrimp juices add loads of flavor to the honey, while the reducing sauce helps cook the shrimp through completely without overcooking it.
- The sugars in the honey caramelize, which not only add a wonderful flavor to the sauce, it also forms a thick glaze that coats each shrimp in a mirror-like glaze.
- This is a very basic recipe that’s delicious, but there is a lot of room to improvise and create new variations by substituting different ingredients. Keep reading for suggestions on substitutions and variations.
Ingredients for Honey Garlic Shrimp
Dry White Wine – No need to get fancy or expensive here I used a $6 bottle of Spanish table wine, but anything that’s not too sweet (like a sauvignon blanc, or pinot gris) will work.
Honey – I recommend using honey with a relatively mild flavor like Acacia honey. More potent honey like buckwheat or eucalyptus can overpower the shrimp.
Salt – I wanted the flavors of the honey, garlic, and shrimp to be the star of this dish, so I chose to use salt, but you can get creative here and uses other sources of salt, like soy sauce, fish sauce, or miso for something a little different.
Olive Oil – I used olive oil because it’s a “clean” oil, but you can use anything from vegetable oil to butter, and it should work fine.
Garlic – Nothing fancy here, but the trick is to use a ton of garlic.
Shrimp – I used black tiger prawns for this, but any large shrimp will work. In terms of size, I used Jumbo-size (21/25) shrimp, but if you can find bigger ones, that will work even better. I have an in-depth article on selecting and cleaning shrimp, so go check that out for more info.
Crushed Red Pepper – I like to add pepper flakes to give the sauce a little kick while adding a splash of color. You could substitute your favorite hot sauce, or just leave it out altogether if you don’t want it too spicy.
Lemon – I like the freshness and balancing tartness a squeeze of lemon adds at the end, but this is totally optional. This is also delicious with a squeeze of lime. If you want to give it some more lemon/lime flavor, you can also use a Microplane to grate in some zest into the sauce.
Parsley – I used flat-leaf parsley because it’s what I have growing in the herb garden right now, but tarragon, cilantro, and basil are just a few other herbs that would go great with this.
How to make Honey Garlic Shrimp
The first thing you want to do is to make the sauce by mixing together the white wine, honey, and salt.
Then you want to saute the minced garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat until it’s very fragrant and just barely starting to turn a light shade of brown around the edges. You don’t want to fully brown the garlic, or it will burn and get bitter by the time the shrimp is done.
Next, you want to add the shrimp in a single layer. The garlic tends to get sandwiched between the shrimp and the pan, so move the shrimp around a bit to make sure they’re making good contact with the pan.
Once the shrimp is cooked about 1/3 of the way through (you can see it changing color), flip them over and sprinkle on the crushed red pepper. You don’t want to cook the shrimp through fully at this stage as it will finish cooking in the sauce.
Add the sauce and turn up the heat to high. Let the sauce reduce until it forms a thick glaze and coat the shrimp evenly. Because some shrimp can be very salty, I’ve reduced the amount of salt in the sauce. Give the shrimp a taste and add more salt if you think it needs it.
Serve the shrimp garnished with the chopped parsley and slices of lemon.
Variations on this recipe
- Asian Honey Garlic Shrimp – Substitute 2 teaspoons of soy sauce for the salt
- Honey Garlic BBQ Shrimp – Substitute 2 tablespoons of ketchup for the wine and add a few drops of liquid smoke.
- Honey Mustard Garlic Shrimp – Add a tablespoon of dijon mustard to the sauce to make a delicious honey mustard sauce.
Sides for Honey Garlic Shrimp
dry white wine
garlic (2 large cloves minced)
shrimp (15 jumbo)
crushed red pepper
Flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)
Lemon (sliced for garnish)
Make the sauce by combining the wine, honey, and salt in a bowl and stirring until the salt and honey dissolve.
Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and then add the olive oil and garlic. Saute the garlic until it’s fragrant, and just starting to turn a light brown around the edges.
Add the shrimp and spread it out in a single layer. Let it fry until it’s cooked about 1/3 of the way through.
Flip the shrimp over and then add the crushed red pepper.
Add the sauce and turn up the heat to high to quickly reduce the sauce into a thick glaze.
Serve the shrimp garnished with chopped parsley and lemon slices.